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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

8 comments

  1. In the korech article:

    “It’s really impossible to know with historical accuracy what Hillel actually did,” Rabbi Yuter says. “It’s certainly tradition that this is what he used to do.”

    Why does he have to denigrate tradition? Is there any reason to think that the beraisa quoted in Pesachim 115a and the haggadah are not historically accurate? We are talking about a straightforward dispute about how to fulfill the mitzvah of eating korban pesach with matzoh and maror. These sources state clearly that Hillel did it one way. Why in the world should we think that is anything but accurate?

    • His audience at CS Monitor is largely people who would confuse critical thought with bing critical. And certainly don’t share the assumed trust in Chazal you’re demanding.

      In any case, wraps are far older than Hillel. The skeptics have no reason to be skeptical.

      • Micha, I hear you, but really, we are not talking about reports of a miracle or something fantastic. We are talking about making a sandwich. Our tradition says that one sage did that as part of his Passover ritual. Why in the world would the Talmudic sages make that up? To get (non-existent) royalty rights from the Earl of Sandwich 1700 years later?

    • Tal, what’s the problem? I don’t think anyone says that it’s out of the question that the barayta is citing something Hillel did, and that what he did involved combining the three elements somehow. The question is how exactly he did it. I don’t think it’s too revolutionary to point out that he had meat in his; nor that his marror was not grated horseradish; nor that his matza was not hard. Put all that together, and our “korech” resembles his barely if at all.

      • Even if everything you are saying is correct, how is that detract from it being a sandwich? If anything, it is more like a sandwich you would eat in any deli today.

      • The problem is that his statement implies that the whole thing may not be historically accurate, when there is no reason to think otherwise. It is clear that Hillel took a piece of the korban pesach, a piece of maror (probably a kind of lettuce) and wrapped them in matzoh. Yes, you can quibble a bit about this or that detail, but that means Hillel was eating a “sandwich,” or more like what we would today call a wrap.

        What I am objecting to is the implication (taken by the author) that the whole thing was made up. Which is nonsense, this is not an aggadata about how big Og’s crib was, it is a report about how a tanna fufilled a mitzvah. No reason to doubt its historical accuracy.

  2. MiMedinat HaYam

    Not like a deli sandwich today, since modern (improper) chumrot today forbid sandwiches as “matzah shruya”.

    Anyway, Hillel’s innovation was not the “sandwich”, it was doing it on pesach. DeOrayta, it is only required on pesach sheni (and pesach mitzrayim.)

  3. MMH: Hillel would have done it on Pesach Rishon. The fact that (most of) our haggada/os quote the verse from sefer Bemidbar instead of sefer Shemos has been discussed at length, for example http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=51449&st=&pgnum=108 etc. But it shouldn’t fool you into thinking that Hillel was only doing it for pesach sheini (or pesach mitzrayim? Where would that come from?)

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